Anti-terrorist funds went to extremist groups, says Theresa May
Government-funded anti-extremism projects must in future be targeted against forms of terrorism that pose the greatest threat to national security, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.
Organisations previously funded by the 63 million annual anti-radicalisation budget have not been monitored closely enough and, in the worst cases, were "the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting".
The Prevent strategy, which was originally launched in 2007 to stop the growth of home-grown terrorism, "failed to tackle the extremist ideology that not only undermines the cohesion of our society, but also inspires would-be terrorists to seek to bring death and destruction to our towns and cities", Mrs May said.
But Labour accused Mrs May of political "point-scoring", with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper saying there was a gap between Mrs May's rhetoric and the reality of the government's policy on terrorism.
The Home Secretary was "in for a fall" if she thought she could solve the problem without making any mistakes, Ms Cooper said.
Mrs May told MPs that, under the previous government, "in trying to reach out to those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting".
"We will not make the same mistakes," she said.
"In a world of scarce resources, it is clear that Prevent work must be targeted against those forms of terrorism which pose the greatest risk to our national security.
Currently, the greatest threat comes from al-Qaeda, and those they inspire."
Prevent "must also recognise and tackle the insidious impact of non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists exploit", she said.
Funding would be removed from organisations that "do not support the values of democracy, human rights, equality before the law, participation in society", she added.
In her foreword to the review, Mrs May said the monitoring and evaluation of Prevent projects "has not been robust enough to justify the sums of public money spent on them".
Although it conceded that groups that support extremism have received funding, the review found "no evidence to indicate widespread, systematic or deliberate funding of extremist groups, either by the Home Office or by local authorities or police forces".
More "can and must be done" in education, faith, health, criminal justice and charities to tackle radicalisation, the review said.
The new strategy, which will be backed by 36m from the Home Office and 10m from the Foreign Office, will tackle the ideology of extremism and terrorism and stop individuals from being drawn into terrorism.
Mrs May, who accused universities of "complacency" in tackling radicalisation and Islamic extremism on campuses, said the government would work "with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation".
Lord Carlile of Berriew, the independent reviewer of the Prevent review, described the revised strategy as "a template for challenging the extremist ideas and terrorist actions which seek to undermine the rule of law and fundamental British political values and institutions".
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